Tags: henderson island | plastic | debris

Henderson Island Plastic Debris Denser Than Anywhere in World

Image: Henderson Island Plastic Debris Denser Than Anywhere in World
Hawaii's beaches also attract Pacific debris. (AP Photo/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 May 2017 06:17 AM

Henderson Island is awash with plastic debris – some 37.7 million pieces – despite being an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean about 3,100 miles from the closest population center, according to a study by University of Tasmania researchers.

Near the center of the South Pacific Gyre ocean, Henderson Island has become a magnet for current-borne debris from South America and trash dumped there by passing fishing boats, according the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The isolation of remote islands has, until recently, afforded protection from most human activities," the study said. "However, society's increasing desire for plastic products has resulted in plastic becoming ubiquitous in the marine environment, where it persists for decades."

"… The density of debris was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, suggesting that remote islands close to oceanic plastic accumulation zones act as important sinks for some of the waste accumulated in these areas. As global plastic production continues to increase exponentially, it will further impact the exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity for which remote islands have been recognized."

The University of Tasmania said that during the most recent scientific research on Henderson Island by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a British nature conservation group, scientists found its beaches loaded with 671 plastic items per square meter, the most ever recorded there.

"What's happened on Henderson Island shows there's no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans," said Jennifer Lavers, the study's lead author. "Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale."

"Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone."

Henderson Island is the largest of the Pitcairn Islands, said National Public Radio. The islands are considered British Overseas Territory and Pitcairn is the lone inhabited island of the five-island group.

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Henderson Island is awash with plastic debris – some 37.7 million pieces – despite being an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean about 3,100 miles from the closest population center, according to a new study by University of Tasmania researchers.
henderson island, plastic, debris
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2017-17-16
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 06:17 AM
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